Over two-and-a-half years ago, armed with a laptop, a debit card and a $50 NYC subway coupon code, I ordered a Casper mattress to replace my aging, malformed spring mattress. I, like many other young people, found the premise of a reasonably affordable, hassle-free, mail-order, one-fit-for-everyone mattress to be a preferable alternative to the typical mattress shopping process. Casper made the bed-in-a-box the new standard for buying a mattress, and it’s the reason almost every new trendy online-only brand is referred to as “the Casper of” whatever.

Years later, I’ve grown to appreciate my Casper for what it is — fairly supportive, fairly comfortable, fairly hard to object to. It’s not perfect, but there’s no right or wrong preference for how a mattress should feel — the original Casper was built around that understanding and capable of making a lot of people happy. (When we first reviewed the standard Casper back in 2014, we called it “a Goldilocks bed.”) But now Casper seems to be reconsidering that approach and has added a new mattress to its lineup that costs almost twice as much as the one that made the brand a breakout success.

The Casper Wave is comprised of five layers of foam. There are contours at the head and foot of the mattress, but at the center — where your back and hips are — Casper added a network of polymer ribbing. The idea is to provide more support for your back, while allowing your shoulders to sink in more, aiding in spinal alignment. This, obviously, is good for spinal health and, according to a woman in the Wave’s promotional video, is supposed to feel like you’ve been “cradled in the softest way.”

The good: Sleeping on the Casper Wave feels like you’re suspended, almost floating, whereas in the standard Casper mattress you sink down more. You’re on top of the mattress, rather than nestled in, and you can feel the foam instantly conforming to your back as you lay down. It’s a firm mattress — it pretty much has to be to provide support — but the actual feel is still supple, almost marshmallow-like. It’s supportive and comfortable in the sense that you can barely tell that it’s there after laying down for a few minutes.

I experienced three benefits to this. For starters, this provides an incredible amount of back support. I’ve never had chronic back pain, but in the past, I’ve occasionally woken with an achy back if I slept the wrong way. This is not so with the Wave, and I consistently have woken up with no such issue — I’m not so sure there is a “wrong way” to sleep on it. Secondly, this setup helps relieve pressure points in your shoulders and hips while sleeping you your side. Also, since you aren’t ensconced in foam, the mattress retains less of your body heat (the open cell foam also helps). I’m a woefully hot sleeper, and this made sleeping so, so much better.

Who it’s for: People who value back support above all else — if you want an ultra-plush, pillow-like experience look elsewhere. The Wave also will accommodate back sleepers, side sleepers and stomach sleepers, so if you tend to switch it up, it will always remain a comfortable, supportive option.

What to look out for: The Wave starts at $1,000 for the twin model while the queen-sized model most people will buy goes for $1,850. That’s nearly twice as much as the standard Casper model, so those whose purchases are driven by value for money might want to pause for a second, especially in an era where you can buy a pretty damn good mattress on Amazon for a couple hundred bucks. Even in the burgeoning realm of premium online mattress offerings, the Wave is still somewhat pricer than high-end offerings from brands like Leesa and Purple.

Alternatives: If you what a crème de la crème bed-in-the-box the aforementioned Leesa Spiro and New Purple Mattress are two other options — the former uses pocket springs for added support while the latter uses an elastic polymer grid. Both also happen to cost a couple hundred dollars less than the Wave. If you want to save even more, Casper’s standard mattress still provides an overall excellent sleeping experience.

Verdict: Is the Wave better than the standard Casper? Absolutely. Is it twice as good? Well, that depends. While the Wave lacks the pure value that a lot of other mail-order mattresses provide, you’ll probably find the Wave to be a worthy upgrade if you are the type willing to spend the dough to have the best possible product. If you don’t, at least you have 100 days to send it back.

What others are saying: “What most impresses me about the Wave mattress is how quickly I find myself comfortably lying still and how minimally I need to move or turn to stay comfortable. That’s thanks to the soft, cushioning upper foam layer of the mattress, into which your body settles at once without pressure points.” — Steven John, Business Insider

“Both the top layer of Flo foam and the layer of latex beneath are soft yet respond quickly to pressure. This means they provide pressure relief but still allow for the sleeper to adjust positions. By placing these layers above the memory foam, you get the contouring benefits of all three without having to worry about feeling stuck.” — Logan Block, Sleepopolis

“I loved it while I was on my back. When I was on my side it felt like my whole body was being propped up, not even really sinking in at all. On my stomach, which is how I normally sleep, it felt like I was fully flat from had to toe, without any particular parts of my body sinking in more than others. My spine felt straight and comfortable and supported.” — Lauren Schwartzberg, The Strategist

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